The House is scheduled to take up the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (H.R. 1927), which aims to reform the current federal class action lawsuit framework by requiring uninjured parties to be part of separate class action suits than those parties experiencing more extensive injuries. According to data from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, enactment of H.R. 1927 could reduce the number of class action suits filed and the number of plaintiffs in them, but could also increase the administrative burden on the courts.
“Only those people who share injuries of the same type and extent should be part of a class action lawsuit,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) when introducing the bill on April 22. “I was proud to help move the Class Action Fairness Act through Congress ten years ago, and today I am introducing this legislation to supplement the protections afforded to victims in class actions, and further reduce wasteful litigation in our courts.”
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jan 8, 2016.
Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2016
(Sec. 2) This bill amends the federal judicial code to prohibit federal courts from certifying any proposed class seeking monetary relief for personal injury or economic loss unless the party seeking to maintain such a class action affirmatively demonstrates that each proposed class member suffered an injury of the same type and scope as the injury of the named class representatives.
A court's certification of such a class must include a determination, based on a rigorous analysis of the evidence presented, that the requirements of this Act have been satisfied.
(Sec. 3) The bill also amends federal bankruptcy law concerning a trust formed under a reorganization plan following the discharge in bankruptcy of a debtor corporation in order to assume the debtor's liability with respect to claims seeking recovery for personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage allegedly caused by the presence of, or exposure to, asbestos or asbestos-containing products. Such a trust shall file with the bankruptcy court quarterly reports, available on the public docket, which describe each demand the trust has received from a claimant and the basis for any payment made to that claimant (excluding any confidential medical record or the claimant's full Social Security number). Upon written request, and subject to payment (demanded at the option of the trust) for any reasonable cost incurred by the trust to comply with such request, such a trust shall provide any information related to payment from, and demands for payment from, the trust to any party to any action in law or equity concerning liability for asbestos exposure.